The Alcolu Railroad

Alcolu to Sardinia, SC

This railroad was incorporated on March 18, 1902 by Robert J. Alderman, David W. Alderman and David C. Shaw to build from Alcolu on the Central Railroad of SC (now the CSX line from Sumter to Lanes), northwest of Manning, SC, to the northeast to Sardinia and to the Lynches River. The Aldermans were lumber magnates and the line was built essentially to bring lumber to the Alderman mill in Alcolu. Alcolu was named as an amalgamation of three names - ALderman, COldwell (brother-in-law of David W. Alderman), and Lulu (daughter of David W.). The line reached Olanta in 1906 and was extended to Kirby in 1907. From the Alderman mill in Alcolu, the line served:

14New Zion
20Paroda Junction

A branch was built North to Turbeville, but the closest station to Turbeville was at Seloc (Coles spelled backwards).

The branch to Turbeville extended into the forests and the Carolina Bays beyond town, and the main line was extended north across the Lynches River to Sardis in Florence County. The farthest point reached was Peniel in 1910, but the line was cut back to Sardis in 1912 and Kirby in 1915. In 1910, the line was 32 miles of standard gauge track. In 1916, the Alcolu rain one passenger train each way each day from Alcolu to Olanta.

The Paroda Railroad, owned by the Aldermans also, connected with the Alcolu at Paroda Junction. The Paroda was chartered in 1906 and was intended to be a standard gauge line to Lanes on the Northeastern (ACL) between Florence and Charleston, where it would also connect with the Georgetown & Western. The Paroda first built north to Durwoods PO, then this was abandoned in 1910. The Paroda then built south to Bethel Siding in southeast Williamsburg County. The Paroda was little more than a logging road feeding the Alcolu, but it was listed in the Official Guide as a common carrier. The Alcolu obtained trackage rights and operated freight over the line. The Paroda was abandoned in 1930.

The Alcolu Railroad was abandoned on June 4, 1936. A small spur still exists from the CSX line to the Georgia Pacific Plant in Alcolu. It is extremely difficult if not impossible to make out the former right-of-way.

* Olanta was previously named Beulah before the railroad arrived


  • Logging Railroads of South Carolina by Thomas Fetters
  • Special thanks to "Mayor Bubba" McElveen of Sumter for information on this and other lines in and around Sumter, SC

—  User Comments  —

I have a wooden loon serving tray that refereces it is the property of the Alcolu railroad. It appears handmade and in very good condition. I am wondering if anyone knows more about this tray?

John Berry
Cornish, NH

The timetable of November 15, 1909 (printed in the Official Guide of July 1911) lists passenger trains, one daily except Sunday from Alcolu to Olanta and back, and one on Tuesdays and Thursdays only from Olanta to Kirby and back. The gauge indicated in the OG is 4 ft 0 in (= 1,219 mm).

Thomas Goldammer
Leipzig, Germany

Fixing the above, the gauge is of course 4 ft 9 in. (checked it with other Official Guides) Was just a bad copy, my fault.

Thomas Goldammer
Leipzig, Germany

To James, I think I have a tray like that on ebay. Type in Alcolu Railroad and I see 2 different ducks on there.

Mars Hill, NC

I have in my family a carved wood canvas back wood duck that is hot branded " Property of ALCOLU RAILROAD , Alcolu, SC. and has a signature of someone named Symington its hard to read. it does have some shot pellets in it on it , as in shot at . any information on this?

Mike Burmeister
Niangua, MO

The stations need editing.

It is McLeod

It is Harby

It is DuRant

Gable was not a station till after Black River Cypress built their mill circa 1916.

"New Zion" was actually Gamble's for Mr. Gamble's Store.

It was served by both D W Alderman and the Salem railroad.

Mr. Gamble died later and the Salem pulled away, and Gamble's became "New Zion Station", since it was not at New Zion.

Next was Beard's

Next was Cole's for Cole's Crossroads.

Alderman's first extension was to Gibbons and Gibson and to Henderson. This was NOT a part of the Alcolu.

Hudson was at Hudson's Mill in Florence County.

Next was Beulah, which became Olanta in 1908.

Next was Kirby at his farm near Lynches River.

Next was Ham at his farm.

Alderman track ran on to Penial, but this was not part of the Alcolu.

Alcolu freight service ran daily from Alcolu to Ham.

Alcolu passenger service was Alcolu to Beulah, with one train a week from Beulah to Kirby.

Alderman ran a branch from east of Beard to Dials Bay before there was a Turbeville. This was NOT part of the Alcolu.

Alderman and the Alcolu NEVER got to Sardis (the town) but Ham is in Sardis Township.

The Alcolu did NOT run on Sunday. It was a six-day per week line.

D.W. Alderman built south to Bethel Siding and also to Mouzon, but only the Bethel -Paroda Junction line became Paroda RR. The others were all logging lines and were nearly at Shiloh (Sumter CO), and were at MAX, on the county line and at Hebron in Williamsburg Co.

The ALCOLU ran over track originally D W Alderman & Sons, and when abandoned as a common carrier, trains ran for a decade more as a logging line. Alderman built a Harby to Cypress Forks line which was never Alcolu RR.

First passenger train on Alcolu stopped at DuRant, Sardinia, Gamble's, Beard, Coles, Paroda Junction, Hudson and Beulah. There was no McLeod or Harby at that time.

ASK Mayor McElveen about Col Tom Wilson's tram from Salem to Hebron to Lynches River. Hebron became McElveen for a while and changed back to Hebron. I have a list of all the stops, but one needs a 1910 road map to figure out the actual route.

Alderman ripped out the Wilson tram crossing of the Alderman railroad, Wilson's tram crashed when returning to Salem and this was in court for years. I found no mention in daily papers of this dramatic event.

Tom Fetters

Tom Fetters
Lombard, IL

The ride away for the Alcolu Railroad in Beulah (now Olanta)is North Magnolia and South Magnolia Avenues. S. Magnolia is a wooded area, but is shown in Florence County, SC Tax Books.

Kent Godwin
Olanta, South Carolina

In the schedule above - #17 Seloc = Cole's Crossroads spelled backwards!

Kent Godwin
Olanta, SC

The Reference by Tom Fenter to: Bethel Siding - refers to Bethel Baptist Church located on US Hwy 301, about 4 miles North of the Town of Olanta

Kent Godwin
Olanta, SC

Bethel Siding was in Williamsburg County due south from Paroda Junction at the end of the Paroda Railroad. This was near a Bethel Church there and southwest of Springbank, a lost town. (This was the second of Three mainlines of the Paroda.) The first ran north to Durwood P.O. on the Lynches River. The third ran southeast to Thigpen and ending at McElveen in Williamsburg County.

Tom Fetters
Lombard, IL, IL

I have a picture of the old locomotive and passenger car from the Alcolu Railroad. This picture also shows the first conductor of the Train who is from Olanta. This picture shows the conductor and engine while sitting in the Olanta downtown section. I would like to share this picture. I also have a Jerry Locklair picture showing the Seloc Depot (Seloc = Cole's Xroads spelled backwards)

Kent Godwin
Olanta, SC


I have tried to reach you by phone, but get no answer. Robert L Alderman with whom I am sharing information and I would like to seethe photos you mentioned.

You could post them on my e-mail at

Thanks a lot.

Tom F

Tom Fetters
Lombard, IL, IL

Maps of the time show Kirby Camp on the south side of Lynches River. All older locals say the camp was on the north side on the farm of Alton Kirby on present-day Deere Road. From there it went to Hamville, about where Cusaac's Cross Roads is, through Sparrow Swamp to the Sparrow Swamp Camp which was on present-day Alvin Kirby Road just off present-day Langston Road. Both sites have ruins of lumber camps. How does this square with your research?

Raymond B. Hancock
Timmonsville, SC

Kirby was a farm south of the Lynches River.

In 1910, the ALCOLU RR extended the mainline north from Kirby crossing the river with two small trestles to the bottomland, one was 24 feetlong, the other 19 feet long. They then built a frame trestle that was 1223feet long followed by four small trestles of 25feet, 37 feet, 17 foot, and 31 feet.

Milepost 39 was on south end of the Big trestle.

The track then crossed sandpits where a depot was built, and a warehouse.

The line continued to Ham's, named for Henry H Ham and extended 875 feet further. The Alcolu Railroad ended here at Mile post 32.76 from Alcolu.

There was no wye, so trains approached with the locomotive running backwards so it could head back properly oriented.

This was the Sardis Section of Florence County, so some have thought the track reached the village of Sardis which was well upstream from trestle crossing.

Much later the line was extended as a logging line to Penial, SC.

T. Fetters

Thomas Fetters
Lombard, IL